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Thread: Beginner build

  1. #1
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    Beginner build

    Hi, I am new to the forums. I am wanting to build a melting foundry mostly for aluminum, tin, and copper. Would like to be able to upgrade it later for Iron. I plan on buying firebrick. I don't know what I can safely build it out of. I live on an old farmstead where I have literal tons of metal laying around. I have probably 35, 55-gallon drums. Are those okay to build with or do I need to find something else. I was thinking I would cut them in half and make a lid for it. I do know I want to build it to be propane burning and not coal. Preferably I would want to buy a burner like I saw on on backyardmetalcasting.com. I don't know that I want to get into casting just yet, but I am curious. But I want to get used to melting first.

    I know this isn't a super friendly beginner thing which is why I want to learn before I get started.

  2. #2
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    The first furnace I made was built using stacked insulating fire bricks, and a commercial propane burner.
    The only problem with it was that the insulating fire bricks started to break after a few uses.

    I have since build a furnace from hard fire bricks, and have been very impressed with it.
    I just stacked a circle of bricks, wired around them with heavy gauge steel wire, and knocked a hole in the side for the tuyere (burner entry port).
    I did not use and still don't use insulation of any type.
    The lid is a pottery kiln shelf.

    This type of furnace is relatively cheap to make, and will withstand the abuse of an oil burner, although I have not tried to melt iron in it.
    If you really want to melt iron, I would recommend 3,000 F Mizzou cast refractory.

    Here is a link to discussions about a hard fire brick furnace, with photos:
    http://www.alloyavenue.com/vb/showth...+brick+furnace

    I think a mistake that many make when building a first furnace is to try and make it too complicated.
    I think it would be wise to concentrate on melting metal at first, and after getting a better feel for it, then move up if desired.
    I really like my brick furnace though, and it does a whole lot for just a stack of bricks.

    Good luck


    Edit:
    Also, had I known about it at the time, I would have built my own "Reil" style propane burner, which is pretty easy to do, and these burners work well.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjcaster View Post
    The first furnace I made was built using stacked insulating fire bricks, and a commercial propane burner.
    The only problem with it was that the insulating fire bricks started to break after a few uses.

    I have since build a furnace from hard fire bricks, and have been very impressed with it.
    I just stacked a circle of bricks, wired around them with heavy gauge steel wire, and knocked a hole in the side for the tuyere (burner entry port).
    I did not use and still don't use insulation of any type.
    The lid is a pottery kiln shelf.

    This type of furnace is relatively cheap to make, and will withstand the abuse of an oil burner, although I have not tried to melt iron in it.
    If you really want to melt iron, I would recommend 3,000 F Mizzou cast refractory.

    Here is a link to discussions about a hard fire brick furnace, with photos:
    http://www.alloyavenue.com/vb/showth...+brick+furnace

    I think a mistake that many make when building a first furnace is to try and make it too complicated.
    I think it would be wise to concentrate on melting metal at first, and after getting a better feel for it, then move up if desired.
    I really like my brick furnace though, and it does a whole lot for just a stack of bricks.

    Good luck


    Edit:
    Also, had I known about it at the time, I would have built my own "Reil" style propane burner, which is pretty easy to do, and these burners work well.
    Do you have a link for where I can get hard firebrick or a blueprint of the Reil burner?

  4. #4
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    The fire bricks are available at many hardware stores.
    I think Lowes has them, as well as Tractor Supply.
    Fireplace stores also usually have them.

    I would look on ebay too since they may be there.
    Here are three examples, but there may be more:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Fire-Brick-K...cAAOSwstxVGLeH

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-CASE-OF-...UAAOxyzqdTeBLg

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Six-6-Split-...MAAOSwrhBZCX5b



    The price can vary widely, so definitely shop around.

    Here is one online place that has them at a pretty reasonable price; not sure what shipping would be.
    https://www.fleetfarm.com/detail/uni...FU46gQodlhkI9g
    Size is 9 x 4.5 x 1.25 inches, and if you cut them, you need a wet saw or a diamond blade in an angle grinder, since they are quite dense. (they don't need to be cut except for the burner entry hole).




    This is the insulating fire brick, and while they are very light weight, and you can cut them easily with a hacksaw, they don't hold up very well at all, especially with an oil burner. Size is 9" x 4.5" x 2.5".
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/AMACO-Ins...&wl13=&veh=sem



    Here is the link to the Ron Reil propane burner drawing:
    https://www.abana.org/ronreil/burner.gif

    and general information on the Ron Reil burner:
    https://www.abana.org/ronreil/burnerdoc.shtml


    Videos of a Ron Reil burner (note: I have not viewed these yet, so I am not sure of the quality of each build).
    And there are probably more you can find with a search.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHrELQcVR2Y

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFdEKP57WGY


    Typically a bbq grille propane regulator will not provide enough pressure, but the one you need is readily available.

    And the Ron Reil burner I think is designed for forge use, and so it has a flair on the end.
    With a furnace, you may not need the flair, and I think many omit that item with a furnace.

  5. #5
    Moderator DavidF's Avatar
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    Figure out what you want to cast first, then how large a crucible you will need to hold that size melt. Once you know this you can design your furnace around the crucible size. A 55 gallon drum will make a huge furnace, but at quite an expense. Reil burners are great!! easy to make and very potent. If you are running off a std bbq tank build the 3/4" reil. The 1" Reil consumes so much propane that it will cause the propane temp to drop rapidly (even with a full tank) slowing the evaporation rate and producing less BTU's than the 3/4" will.

    Im all ways curious, what is it you would like to cast as an end result?
    A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor...
    http://thehomefoundry.org

  6. #6
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    At this point, I just want to be able to do a lot of different sizes of casting. At first, I just want to make ingots for getting used to it. But I have a few ideas of things like foot tall horses or casting fruit. I think it would be neat to give a metal fruit basket.

  7. #7
    Moderator DavidF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sabayn View Post
    At this point, I just want to be able to do a lot of different sizes of casting. At first, I just want to make ingots for getting used to it. But I have a few ideas of things like foot tall horses or casting fruit. I think it would be neat to give a metal fruit basket.
    Then consider building 2 furnaces, one small for an A-6 to A-10, and a larger one for A-20 plus. With those larger crucibles you will want an extra set of hands around, smaller you can safely handle by yourself.
    A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor...
    http://thehomefoundry.org

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